Download PDF by Kareen Rafferty: Environmental Effects of Nuclear Power

By Kareen Rafferty

ISBN-10: 9381157553

ISBN-13: 9789381157558

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Hence, like uranium-238, thorium-232 is a fertile material. After starting the reactor with existing U-233 or some other fissile material such as U-235 or Pu-239, a breeding cycle similar to but more efficient than that with U-238 and plutonium can be created. The Th-232 absorbs a neutron to become Th-233 which quickly decays to protactinium-233. Protactinium-233 in turn decays with a half-life of 27 days to U-233. In some molten salt reactor designs, the Pa-233 is extracted and protected from neutrons (which could transform it to Pa-234 and then to U-234), until it has decayed to U-233.

The ground track of fallout from an explosion depends on the weather situation from the time of detonation onwards. In stronger winds, fallout travels faster but takes the same time to descend, so although it covers a larger path, it is more spread out or diluted. So the width of the fallout pattern for any given dose rate is reduced where the downwind distance is increased by higher winds. The total amount of activity deposited up to any given time is the same irrespective of the wind pattern, so overall casualty figures from fallout are generally independent of winds.

For instance iodine-131 is a short-lived beta and gamma emitter, but because it concentrates in the thyroid gland, it is more able to cause injury than caesium-137 which, being water soluble, is rapidly excreted in urine. In a similar way, the alpha emitting actinides and radium are considered very harmful as they tend to have long biological half-lives and their radiation has a high linear energy transfer value. Because of such differences, the rules determining biological injury differ widely according to the radioisotope, and sometimes also the nature of the chemical compound which contains the radioisotope.

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Environmental Effects of Nuclear Power by Kareen Rafferty

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